On the phone with a friend in Bombay today, we both lamented over the greed and ignorance that comes as a heady cocktail as medical care in India today. Horror stories abound of people having their organs removed without their consent, of deaths that get covered up, or simple negligence that has cruel consequences that are irreversible. People I know have been treated for ailments as serious as cancer only to find out that biopsy reports have got mixed up. My mother was often like a dervish in a twirl of endless medical tests, until I put a stop to it after I received a feeble explanation from a well meaning physician that he thought it comforted her to do the tests!
The most empowered of people become intimidated by hospitals and medical procedures. I myself always dread any surgeries as my body does not respond to anaesthetic and requires a much higher dosage. So regaining consciousness during operational procedures and the panic it causes emotionally is rather a harrowing memory. A simple dental surgery that others need a single injection for has me needing seven before it takes the required effect! Anaesthetic junkie...thy name is Rekha!
Being informed is of course vital. Being enquiring absolutely necessary. And above all being comfortable with what is being decided as the proceeding medical intervention is always a must. But finally the most important factor is always the sense of trust we repose in our doctors that is what finally makes us compliant with whatever medically needs to be done. Also as a woman it is imperative that I feel comfortable with the physical touch of my doctors, either men or women. I often am appalled by the transgressions of doctors through their the gaze, or the smirk that holds power over ones vulnerability, or the the desire to become over familiar and personal in areas that are not connected to the consultancy of the issue the at hand.
I hope that a time can come where spare parts can just replace the old worn out bits of our bodies, and that DIY instructions come with the pack. So bye-bye doctors and by pass the by-pass.....oh happy day!
As for now I sort of put my practical cap on and march around doctors and hospitals with my focus on the immediate and scuttle out as fast as I can. However the bunch of doctors whom I frequent: a physician, a gynaecologist, an ENT specialist, a surgeon and a pathologist are really amazingly sensitive, informed and caring medical practitioners.....but not everyone is as fortunate as me. I also believe that a city like Baroda still preserves an intimacy that allows for people to perform service with greater accountability.